Thursday, December 28, 2006

Viva la Revolucion!

So this New Years, I’m crossing “Get Organized” off my list of resolutions.

Because the New York Times told me that I don’t have to. An article last week extolled the virtues of disorganization, encouraging readers to embrace clutter as the mark of creativity and individuality. One particularly insightful paragraph stated:

But contrarian voices can be heard in the wilderness. An anti-anticlutter movement is afoot, one that says yes to mess and urges you to embrace your disorder. Studies are piling up that show that messy desks are the vivid signatures of people with creative, limber minds (who reap higher salaries than those with neat “office landscapes”) and that messy closet owners are probably better parents and nicer and cooler than their tidier counterparts. It’s a movement that confirms what you have known, deep down, all along: really neat people are not avatars of the good life; they are humorless and inflexible prigs, and have way too much time on their hands.

Vindication is mine!

Suck it, Container Store! Always taunting me with your empty promises that color-coded files and a well organized shoe rack will lead me to a happier and more productive life. I always knew that you were a false prophet!

Turns out the stacks of paper strewn across my desk, the phone numbers I can never find and the appointment book I’m always losing are just the signs of a nimble mind at work. I don’t have time to alphabetize, I’ve got important thinkin’ to do!

According to the NY Times website, the article has been at the top of most frequently e-mailed story list for days. I’m sure that loads of important international news has been overlooked as throngs of Type B personalities celebrate our newfound validation. What a novel idea that perhaps we shouldn’t feel ashamed of our hapless closets and our unmade beds. That it’s acceptable—nay healthier—to have other priorities for how we choose to spend our free time.

I’ve always felt that neatness, or lack thereof, is beyond our control anyway. Our level of organization is something that’s hard wired into us, like being right or left-handed or the ability to roll our tongues. Sure I could teach myself to write and peel bananas with my left hand, but what’s the point? It would never feel natural. Likewise, my boyfriend--who only half-jokingly lives by the motto that if it’s not a right angle, it’s a wrong angle—could force himself to throw his laundry on the floor with reckless abandon. But for him, this would be a miserable, unfulfilled life.

(For the record, he’s a very creative and funny guy, not an inflexible prig as the New York Times would have you believe. Perhaps it’s because his neatnik tendencies only apply to his bedroom and office, and not his bathroom or kitchen. However, if he ever buys a label maker, I’m leaving him.)

As thrilling as it is to be let off the hook for messiness, it calls into question a number of other so-called shortcomings for which we routinely beat ourselves up. For instance, who says that procrastination is the wrong way to approach tasks? That people who go to bed early and wake up with the sun are more virtuous than those of us who choose to greet Saturday afternoon in a horizontal fashion. That watching TV will make you stupid? (People who say this have clearly never seen an episode of The Daily Show or Veronica Mars.)

This is not to say that we should all become useless slugs, wiling the days away in front of the TV surrounded by our unfolded laundry. All I’m suggesting is that we should stop feeling so guilty for the short periods of the day we spend in blissful unproductiveness. There will always be jobs, errands to run, meals to prepare and gym memberships to justify. But wouldn’t it be amazing if the time we waste turns out to be the most valuable part of our days?

In light of this revelation, I’ve revamped my list of resolutions for the New Year:

1.) Start looking for new, more fulfilling job/ figure out what I want to do with my life
2.) Learn to speak Spanish
3.) Go to gym at least twice a week
4.) Learn to cook actual meal not involving plastic wrap or microwave
5.) Eat more vegetables
6.) Don’t hate myself if I fail to accomplish #’s 1,2,3,4 or 5.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Inconvenient Truth...About Penguins?

I guess it was only a matter of time before they went after the penguins.

The loveable, Antarctic-dwelling creatures have marched their way into our hearts and minds. They’re the most popular animals that Louis Vuitton has yet to create an over-priced carrying case for. Unless you’re a conservative commentator like Neil Cavuto with lots of air time to fill. In that case, a cheerful animated movie about singing and dancing penguins is nothing more than left-wing propaganda aimed at indoctrinating youth into—gasp—caring about the environment.

Now, I haven’t seen Happy Feet, so maybe the movie was made by the Leni Reifenstahls of tree-hugging. How effective that will be with kids is questionable. After all, I watched the Smurfs for much of my youth and didn’t become a Communist. But if tap-dancing penguins actually are a thinly disguised indictment of the havoc we humans have wreaked on the earth and our feathered friends, than I ask…What’s wrong with that? Any good parent tries to instill basic values into their kids--things like respect for fellow human beings, tolerance and generosity. Why would we assume that respecting the earth would be beyond a child's realm of understanding?

I get that there’s a debate in this country about global warming. What I don't understand is why. The extent of the damage may be debatable, but the evidence—such as reports that frozen sea areas in the Arctic Circle will be completely gone by the summer 2040—is pretty sobering. At least that’s what scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research, the University of Washington and McGill University say. And they are much smarter than I am. The fact that the brain trust of Cavuto and Co. write it off as a liberal agenda is less than comforting.

I understand that the glory of this great nation is that everyone is free to espouse whatever kooky theories they like. But why should they merit equal time and consideration? Why aren’t global warming naysayers relegated to the societal fringes reserved for alien abductees and people who see leprechauns in trees? Which, incidentally, happened in Alabama.

The point is that the longer we continue to treat global warming like a robust debate instead of a foregone conclusion, the longer it will take to enact any real changes.

And on a related subject, I did recently see An Inconvenient Truth, and it was as impressive and downright scary as everyone has said. How is that Al Gore put me to sleep during a presidential debate, yet managed to keep me on the edge of my seat for an hour-and-a-half long power point presentation?

Actually, I think it would very interesting to see him run for President again in 2008. At least he's demonstarted that he has the ability to look at an issue in broader terms than the next election cycle, and he now tells jokes that are actually kind of funny. (Hearing him refer to himself as "the former next President of the United States" never gets old.) Plus, I'm pretty sure he'll get the penguin vote.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

You Are What You Like

I thought it might be helpful to include a little more information about myself. So, for the "about me" section, I've stolen the questionnaire that all guests on "Inside the Actors Studio" are subjected to. Granted, I'm not an actor, but if Teri Hatcher can be interviewed for this venerable show--why not me?
1.) WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE WORD?--The French word for grapefruit. It is Pamplemousse.
2.) WHAT IS YOUR LEAST FAVORITE WORD?--"Slacks," what my grandmother always used to call pants. Come to think of it, I don't really like the word "pants" either.
3.)WHAT TURNS YOU ON?--Laughter and wine. Preferably both at the same time.
4.) WHAT TURNS YOU OFF?--Pretentiousness.
5.) WHAT SOUND DO YOU LOVE?--Coffee brewing in the morning.
6.) WHAT SOUND DO YOU HATE?--A cell phone ringing in a movie theater.
9.) WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CURSE WORD?--F**k. Although in polite company I shorten it to "What the F?"

It's a fun exercise. I encourage you guys to try it and post your responses.

Monday, December 18, 2006

And So It Begins

To start with, I should say that I tend to be late to the party. But within the past few weeks, I've hooked up my TiVo and gotten my first IPod, so the time seems right to continue my foray into the 21st century by setting up a blog. It's something I've wanted to do for a while, mainly as a creative outlet and because I'm just arrogant enough to think that someone besides me might be interested in my thoughts on things. (Isn't that the philosophy upon which the entire Internet culture is based?) The plan is to regularly post pithy and hopefully insightful commentary on current events and pop culture, but I can't promise that it won't occasionally be just a landing pad for random thoughts.

Part of the reason it took me so long to get this going is because I agonized over what to call it. It's harder than you might imagine to think of a name that's neither overly pretentious nor cheesy. In the end, I called it The Notebook as a nod to my roots. Back in high school, my extremely close-knit group of friends started passing around a notebook as sort of a collective diary. A sisterhood of the traveling three-ring binder, if you will. What started as musings about the mind-numbing boredom of health class and gossip about boys later evolved into a gold mine of doodles, photos, hilarious observations of high school trials and tribulations and endless games of dump, screw, marry. If everything I owned were to suddenly go up in smoke, that is probably the first thing i would save. That and my new IPod. So, I dedicate this blog to a group of bright and witty young women who were the first people on earth to like my writing, or at least to tell me they did.